Policeman, others die as pro-Biafara group attempt to seize Enugu radio station
Two persons, including a police officer, were reportedly killed members of the Biafra Zionists Federation (BZF) tried to forcefully take over the Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS).
An Inspector of Police and others were wounded during an exchange of fire between the security operatives and the Biafra separatist group.
The same group attempted similar take-over of Enugu Government House on March 8, where it hoisted flags and other property belonging to it before the members were flushed out by government security.
Since then, BZM has not hidden its intention to declare Biafra in the whole of South-East.
Members of the group, said to have numbered over 50, were alleged to have stormed the state radio station as early as 5.30 a.m., beating and seizing workers on duty while trying to make a forceful access into the station's studio.
Clutching guns, machetes, bottles, petrol and other dangerous weapons including Biafran flags, an attempt to stop them resulted to a shoot-out, which claimed the life of a Police inspector and two other members of the group.
The state Police Commissioner, Abubakar Mohammed, who confirmed the incident on Thursday, said their mission was to make a live broadcast 'overthrowing the government of Nigeria and burning down the television station when challenged', adding that 13 members of the group, including their leader, have been arrested.
The Police had on March 12, declared Onwuka 'wanted for treasonable felony', while it arraigning five in court over the government house incident.
The invasion by the pro-Biafra group, led by a London-trained lawyer, Benjamin Onwuka, was repelled by the security operatives, who stormed the radio premises immediately they were alerted.
It was learnt that the Zionists took to their heels after being overpowered by the security operatives who shot sporadically in the studio to dislodge invaders.
According to reports, two members, including the self-acclaimed leader of the group, Onwuka, was arrested by the police, while some passersby were also arrested for interrogation.
Workers of the state radio station were prevented from gaining entry into the compound while Police and Civil Defence officials took over the entire compound.
An official of the ESBS was quotedas saying that they were asked to 'stay away from the premises for now until further notice'.
Mohammed, while parading 13 suspects on Thursday, said: 'When they went to the ESBS, they gained entry to the studio and wanted access to make a live broadcast to Nigerians. They had a CD Rom where details of what they wanted to tell the public was and they made a summary of it in a sheet of paper. The sheet of paper contained an appeal, calling on all the boys in Obiagu, Ogui and Enugu to come out; they also asked students and tri-cyclists to come out.
'They wanted to order that all businesses, schools and markets be closed and all government officials should surrender property in their possession before midday. You can see that their mission was to overturn the government and it is something that we will never tolerate'.
'In March, they had attacked the Government House, Enugu. We had earlier declared their leader wanted. The same group invaded the ESBS with the intention to set the place ablaze after the broadcast.
'They carried with them arms, machetes, 25 liters of petrol, 46 empty beer bottles, one Biafran Zionist flag and some CDs. The purpose of going there with petrol and bottles is to burn the place; you know, when you put petrol inside a bottle, shake it and throw it into a building, it will explode in flames. They went there also with guns because when the policemen confronted them, they shot one policeman and killed him. In the process of trying to prevent them from setting the place ablaze, they also had a casualty, one of them was shot dead. About 13 of them were arrested, including the leader'.
He gave the names of those arrested as Paulinus Ugwu, Michael Oleinya, Ndubuisi Nwabuchi, Benneth Obiekwe, Kelvin Eke, Abraham Ugwu, Chukwuma Alaobi, Ejeja Samson, John Nwordu, Nwolu Fidelis and Uduma Uduma, adding that some of them escaped.
Mohammed warned any group of persons and individuals planning to foment trouble in whatever form to cause a breach of peace to desist, saying it will not be tolerated.
Efforts to speak with the suspects proved abortive as the Police Commissioner insisted that doing so 'will mean giving them opportunity to say what they wanted to announce in the live broadcast'.